Sonoma State University economics professor Merlin Hanauer is publishing two articles in the prestigious Philosophical Transactions B of the Royal Society, considered the world's longest running science publication.
Hanauer suggests a need for greater understanding of the effects and interactions of protected areas through further data collection and empirical research, though he confirms previous findings that protected areas do not, on average, create or exacerbate issues of poverty where populations depend on the environment for sustenance. Historically, these groups were considered at risk of socioeconomic harm from the establishment of protected areas.
"Our goal in these studies is to give scholars and practitioners a deeper understanding of the economics of conservation," says Hanauer. "Then we can design and implement protected areas that work for societies, communities, and their natural spaces."
Previous studies show that protected areas positively impact impoverished areas through alternative employment opportunities in tourism, increased access to financial support from external organizations, and community development opportunities from market-based economic activity, including improved health care and communication services.
"Professor Hanauer's research provides insight at the leading edge of environmental economics," says Michael Visser, chair of the Department of Economics at Sonoma State. "By addressing the use of natural resources from all sides, he examines the outcome of both protection and extraction on societies, economies, and the environment."